Delegation Part II: The 5 Levels of Delegation and Effective Implementation

Along with communication, delegation is arguably the most important aspect of effective leadership. Yet as crucial, necessary and productive as delegation can be, it is still quite often underused, underappreciated and underrated.

The more effective and successful a leader is, the more crucial his or her ability to delegate becomes. Why? Because no one can be everywhere and do everything all the time — at least until cloning becomes 100 percent effective and foolproof. That makes the ability to effectively delegate responsibility and tasks to qualified peers, co-workers and subordinates extremely important, not to mention valuable.

So how do you go about implementing delegation? What is the best way to utilize it and how do you avoid going to extremes by either under- or overusing it?

There are five basic levels of delegation, but there are many ways to use it. There are also a lot of ways to introduce and implement it.

Levels of Delegation, Take Five

Everyone is different, and that is why there are different levels of delegation. Not everyone can handle, or responds well to certain styles. A good and prescient boss knows which level to use with which subordinate when assigning a task. Although some may disagree that there could be many more, there are at least these five basic levels of delegation:

Ÿ  LEVEL 1: Follows right to the letter. The first, and most obvious, is the “This is your task. Do it exactly as these instructions say and no other way – No exceptions” level. This leaves no wiggle room or margin for deviation. The person assigned the task is to complete it EXACTLY as instructed with no changes, slight or significant. This type of delegation is often used for new employees who are embarking upon an entirely new profession for which they have absolutely no experience.

Ÿ  LEVEL 2: Assign, evaluate, and/or consult before approval. This offers wiggle room, as the desired task is first assigned, then the employee either consults with the manager to come up with a jointly-agreed-upon course of action, or the assigner then delegates which course to take after consultation. After the consultation, the boss or manager may also give instructions or a checklist of needs, such things to assess, tackle and complete the task satisfactorily. This level offers opportunities for more instruction, coaching, and development of the employees. It is often used for employees who may be changing companies but staying in the same career, so they are familiar with the task but not with the new employer’s working style and requirements.

Ÿ  LEVEL 3: Assign, evaluate, decide and wait for approval. The third method is a derivative of Level 2, with the added step of offering more input and creative involvement by the person or persons assigned the task. Not only does this convey more trust and faith in the chosen employee, it also facilitates training, improves the overall experience and increases educational opportunities for the assignees. This is a good happy medium for both new and veteran employees and works well in large workplaces where the tasks must be managed properly for structural purposes.

Ÿ  LEVEL 4: Assign, evaluate, decide and do it… unless. At this level, the employee is almost entirely held accountable for the task with very little instruction. However, the ultimate decision making is still made by the manager. This method shows a lot of faith and pays a compliment to the assignee as to their manager’s level of confidence in their ability to complete the task successfully. It is often left for seasoned employees, particularly those who have performed the repeated or said task successfully in circumstances prior. One drawback to this approach is it can also be a source of frustration for an employee who is told they have the expertise and capability to do what is requested the way their boss wants it done, but then if they lack the confidence in their boss to follow through or if something goes awry, then it makes this person almost entirely accountable. This Level requires trust, rapport, confidence and understanding.

Ÿ  LEVEL 5: Assign, evaluate, decide and run with it. This level conveys the highest confidence in the employee’s abilities, as well as the idea that he or she is well on their way to promotion and advancement. Level 5 is the ultimate in autonomy and confidence shown in the person or persons chosen to complete a task assigned by a superior. The boss doesn’t even require a heads-up or check-back before the assignee starts work on the task. This is not only complete freedom, but also the ultimate compliment in terms of a superior’s confidence in the assignee’s ability to complete a task to the assigner’s complete satisfaction. Many companies who have seasoned staff members use this type of delegation to accomplish more. It can also be beneficial for smaller companies who trust in their employees to help them perform at maximum potential. 

The Art and Implementation of Delegating

When it comes to effective delegation, you can’t just simply order people around. Just as every worker — and person — is different, and therefore responds best to different stimuli or styles of delegation and criticism or praise, so too are there varying degrees of even those five basic levels of delegation.

This means in order to be most effective, and get the best results from people chosen to have tasks and projects delegated to them, bosses must be both creative and knowledgeable when it comes to picking the right person for the right kind of delegated assignment.

Don’t be afraid to seek input from the person you’re considering for a certain project. While people generally are capable of more than their higher-ups may think, there is also a lot of truth in a memorable line uttered by one of Clint Eastwood’s characters when he said “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

When it comes to effective delegation, there are many ways and styles to do it, but it’s always a good idea to practice clear and detailed communication. That includes spelling out exactly what the task is and what’s expected of the person tackling it. Other key factors in effective delegation include:

Ÿ  Emphasizing your teaching skills and making yourself available to help whenever questions or problems crop up.

Ÿ  Using standards that are consistent, so subordinates have a clear idea of what is expected and to what degree those results and outcomes are expected.

Ÿ  Be sure to extend assignees plenty of freedom, but also conduct regular progress checks so any possible snags don’t turn into major roadblocks or delays.

Ÿ  Share the wealth. When a subordinate worker completes the delegated task successfully, or to an even higher degree than expected, be sure to share the credit and single that person out for accolades and praise. The worst thing to do it to take sole credit for the delegated project’s success. Not only does this make workers distrustful and resentful toward their bosses, it also provides disincentive for future tasks to be performed to the best of an assignee’s ability when he or she knows they won’t share in any of the credit or reap any rewards for their hard work.

“The growth and improvement — and thereby success and profitability — of your business is directly linked to the growth and improvement of its employees.”

Another benefit of delegation is that it is a proven way to develop and determine the best candidates to succeed their bosses and administrators. Failure to develop successors through delegation means a lack of qualified candidates to fill higher-up positions of leadership and skill when leaders and skilled workers retire or move on. That creates a vacuum of leadership, skill and productivity. It could turn into a disaster if not done properly, but if done right, delegation will streamline the business and put you in a valuable position amongst your industry.

One of the best ways to spur business growth is also by delegation, because successfully implemented delegation leads directly to increased confidence, experience, and capability; and thereby a more capable workforce overall. While delegation doesn’t always lead to promotion, improved productivity and experience, failure to use delegation almost certainly guarantees a total lack of those factors and an overall stagnation and malaise among your subordinate workforce. At best, it means the business is increasingly more reliant on the small minority of workers who can perform higher-end projects, and at worst it means certain projects and tasks may not even be tried or started unless the boss or a small circle of proven workers are available to do it.

Delegation Part I: Knowing When and How to Let Go of Control

If you are like the majority of leaders, you have paid your dues. You have completed your education, internship and may have even started at the bottom of your field and worked your way to the top after many years of employment. And whether you are currently at the bottom, middle or at the top of the ladder, you have experienced delegation.

While barking orders from busy managers may come to mind as your perception of delegation, there is much more to be understood about why it is such an essential skill of successful leadership.  From small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, delegation is a fundamental process that makes everything fluid, creating a streamlined environment that works.  Delegation is necessary to ensure the well-being of the customers and the development of the staff.

Why?  You may not like taking orders from superiors, yet without a leader everyone could be doing the wrong things.  There would be miscommunication and little opportunity for advancement.  Some employees actually prefer to have ‘duties’ rather than to make decisions, especially when it comes to making choices that are critical to success.

Plainly put, delegation is required in order to prevent a leader from becoming exhausted with doing everything.  A leader who accepts and acts on this fact will maximize their time and resources by allowing followers to perform tasks he or she should not be doing.

“The moment a leader realizes how much he needs other people is the very moment he can begin abandoning himself to their strengths

 – Max De Pree

 Why Should We Delegate?

For starters, think of all the things you could get done if you let someone else did them. Granted, they will need training and will probably never do it exactly the way YOU would, however that is one of the necessary traits in order to be a leader.  Knowing when to relinquish some power or control will actually give you more power.

We’ve all been in work environments that may feature two extreme scenarios.  The first is the Control Freak… the boss who doesn’t want your ideas or who has the attitude that things are ‘My Way or the Highway.’  This type of boss is known as a micro-manager. This creates resentment in the workplace and leads to unhappy employees, because no matter how hard they try, the control freak micro-manager is discontent with the tasks performed.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the opposite personality with the Dish-Off Delegator.  This type of supervisor dishes off everything, including their own responsibilities.  They may appear lazy or lacking abilities, but one thing is certain. The overworked employees lack respect for this type of management because they have too many tasks and get in trouble if they are not all completed in a timely fashion.  Both extremes lead to resentment in the workplace.  There should be a balance of what – and when – is delegated and those tasks should be outlined in the employee’s lineup of responsibilities, not as a “dish-off’ of someone else’s work.

As a leader, delegation allows you to:

  • Multiply yourself: Ever wish you had more than two hands?  Or “two of you?” Delegate by training certain people to perform duties that meet your expectations.
  • Create a motivated group:  Giving others small tasks make people feel part of a team. The team environment becomes a tight-knit unit that is able to perform duties to maximize time, enhance customer service and streamline the workflow process.
  • Develop people:  Becoming known as a people developer means that you are teaching them and giving them valuable knowledge, skills and information that will empower them to be able to become self-sufficient.
  • Master stress & time management:  Those who try to take on too much often feel burned out and spend less time with their families or relaxing. If all you do is work, work, work… it may be time to seek help.
  • Create opportunities for yourself and others:  Why hoard all of your talents and knowledge?  By investing your time and relinquishing skills to subordinates you can help them grow and help the company or organization grow, as well.  Having more staff that is less reliant on you means you will be able to take on more clients, which can lead to greater profitability.  It also allows your staff something to strive for as they reach less levels of dependency and become more motivated for promotions and raises.

 “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Why Don’t We Delegate?

Even though we’ve gone over a couple of the extremes with the Control Freak and the Dish-Off Delegator, there are a few psychological points to consider as to why the superior often choose not to delegate.  However, the underlying reason is a fear of letting go of too much control.  Some leaders want to keep the power to themselves, fearing that by showing or telling the staff members too much it may eventually try to take their own positions or do the job better than the leader is able to do.

This is often a disastrous scenario and one that can lead to a decline in the care of the patient, who we are ultimately responsible for.  Some leaders choose not to delegate because they just don’t know where to begin.  Uncertainty of how to offload the workload is one reason that some supervisors don’t delegate.

Others choose not to because they are unsure of whom to give the work to. If they feel that the staff members are too inadequate or incompetent, these leaders may choose not to offer any additional tasks.  Some feel that it’s just “easier to do the job myself” than to waste time instructing others in how to do it to meet their expectations.  Those high expectations are yet another reason, as many leaders feel they are the only ones who can do the job to meet the customer’s satisfaction.

A third group fall into the category of having no time whatsoever to delegate because training often takes too much time.  Constantly busy managers are a prime example of those who fit into this stereotype.  They are pulled in many directions, therefore they lack the time needed to devote to proper training.  Everyone suffers by this attitude, the employees, customers and the leader.  If that person is not there, everything falls apart because no one knows how to complete the tasks needed for the organization to be part of a streamlined process.

7 Steps to Effective Delegation

Once you realize the need for delegation as part of a fluid workplace, what now?  First and foremost, the leader must recognize the need for delegation and commit to taking the time and effort to teach others to perform certain duties that will make the process run smoothly.  Start by:

1)   Create a plan: First determine those tasks that could be given to others. What things could be given away and what things should be done yourself?  How will you implement this process so that everybody has a thorough understanding of their duties?

2)   Responsibility = Results:  Once people realize and learn their said tasks, it gives people something to strive for and enables them to become self-sufficient. It also gives them new direction and purpose, which can create better results and care for the patients.

3)   Choose the Right Person:  If you see specific characteristics in an individual that makes you think they are capable of handling new tasks, then choose that person to delegate related tasks.  For example, you may wish to delegate organizational tasks to someone who is very detail oriented and thorough; whereas you may distribute errands and busywork to another employee who appears restless.  Match certain tasks with the personalities of those individuals for best results.

4)   Authority:  Even though you want to seem likeable to your employees, you must first become respected by them.  You can’t always be their “friend” without being their boss first.  Make sure as you dish out the tasks, you are there to double-check their work and either reward or reprimand as needed. This will put you in the light as their superior and one that staff members look up to for advice and counsel.

5)   Checkpoints:  Creating milestones gives measures to gauge success. When employees meet or surpass your set of expectations, it could be a good time to add more responsibilities or give that person a promotion.  Checkpoints give the staff a chance to prove their abilities to you, as their leader.

6)   Motivating Environment:  There is something to be said for happiness in the workplace.  Reward those who go above and beyond your expectations.  Recognition is a key to creating an atmosphere of teamwork.  Beyond just a simple pat on the back, you may wish to create tangible rewards, such as bonuses, trophies or gift cards that your employees can work to earn and that will foster an ambitious work atmosphere.

7)   Accountability:  Make people accountable for certain tasks. If they fail to do them, you can reassign them to the right people who are more capable of handling the tasks you choose to delegate.  Accountability also spurns people to take action, rather than to leave the work for someone else.  You can do this by using a chart that people have to check off certain duties, or by reporting them with an email to you by a specific deadline, etc.

If you’re new to the art of delegation and are someone used to “doing everything yourself”, you must realize that you are holding back your own success.  Some fear that by letting go of control over most of the responsibilities they may be viewed as weak or incapable, rather than the opposite.  People often respect the one who delegates, as long as they pull their own weight.  What I mean by this is that if the supervisor just commands orders to everyone and then heads out for the golf course, this is not setting a good example to the staff members and they may feel as if they are doing all the work while the management is out enjoying life.

The true art of delegating is being able to take on more work but to give the work you should not be performing to someone else who is perfectly capable of doing their tasks.  It’s like having octopus arms.  In Part II of our Delegation Series, we’ll go over the 5 Levels of Delegation and What You Can do to Implement Delegation.

Do You Really Understand?

I was asked this question after sharing with an employee who was hurting that I understood how she felt. The minute the she said, “Do you really understand!” my heart sunk. Then it hit me, I had just made the #1 listening mistake…sharing that I understood when I had not validated how she felt. Her facial expressions and tone of voice signaled you just think you do. I quickly said, “May I share how I think you feel?” She nodded yes. I said, “You feel scared and unsure of yourself and believe you will be blamed for anything that goes wrong.” She said, “Yes I feel like a scapegoat and dread coming to work every day.”

Fortunately, I quickly recovered and said, “Tell me more.” Then I shut up and listened. Occasionally, I would paraphrase or ask a question to ensure understanding of her intent and emotions. Twenty minutes later, she thanked me for understanding her situation.

Upon returning to my office, I reflected on my poor behavior and asked myself, “Why did I dehumanize her?” The answer was simple; I did not want to listen. I was preoccupied with an upcoming deadline and focused on myself instead of a person in need. Within the first few minutes of hearing her story I began to think to myself, “I don’t have time for this…please hurry up and finish!” The story I told myself drove my emotions and next thing you know I blurted out, “I understand.”

The next time you find yourself not wanting to listen remember there is a cost. When you miss out on key information the organization loses money due to mistakes and wasted time. Besides losing money employees face emotional wear and tear causing relationships to become strained which impacts their performance and productivity.

Remember, when people are understood and trusted they will give their best effort and fully invest themselves in their work.

Listening is the doorway to understanding, bridge to connection and the foundation of trust.

~John Bentley


Not Listening – What Does It Truly Cost Your Organization in Dollars and Cents?

From the time we are born, listening is a skill acquired and used primarily before any of the other senses.  Throughout youth and the teen years, we rely heavily on listening to learn from school and parents.  It is also during this time that we develop the skills of communicating.

An old rhyme goes like this; “A wise old owl sat on an oak; the more he saw, the less he spoke.  The less he spoke, the more he heard; why aren’t we like that wise old bird?”

Why is it then, with such an aptitude of listening that is developed from the time we are born – perhaps even one the most used of our senses – do we fail to continue listening the older we get?

It seems as though listening is a skill that worsens throughout the growing years, as other skills develop and take precedence. By the time people face adulthood they have also faced many bad experiences.  One human instinct is to “tune it out” after awhile.  For example, a kid who hears his parents fighting a lot growing up may try to drone out the unwanted sound by blaring music loudly in his bedroom.  Or, a child who has faced ridicule from peers may tune out those feelings of rejection by simply not listening to people any longer.

Another reason people don’t listen well as adults is because they have mastered the art of talking.  Naturally egocentric as humans, we like to talk about ourselves or about things we like.  Over time, this can lead to interrupting.  Ifsomeone is not listening to what you have to say they may interrupt frequently.  That is because they are on a train of thought and are too unaware that the natural order of conversing back and forth means

‘You talk, then I listen; then I talk, and You listen.”

Yet a wise old sage once said; “We have been given two ears but one single mouth, in order that we may listen more and talk less.” Good point.

Let’s go back to the owl.  As an observer, the wise owl mastered listening and was able to capture his surroundings.  Think how much more people would be able to take in mentally if they truly heard everything that was going on around them.  In the spy movies, the secret agent is always quiet; hence he always knows what’s going on and is a stealthy step ahead of the bad guys.

In an abstract sense, perception impairs the ability to talk and listen adequately causing gaps between the subconscious intent of the leader and what subsequent results may follow.  Some leaders intend to ‘bring down’ others in order to fluff up their own ego. This can be a sign of self-doubt.  Those are leaders who got promoted because of making their presence known, loudly!  The quiet leaders are the motivators.  They quietly know what the capabilities are of their subordinates, so they don’t need to yell in order to motivate them.  This enforces the aspect of trust on behalf of the leader and the follower.  It could be said that leaders are quiet motivators with abundant wisdom, most of which they acquired by listening more and speaking less.

The people who listen are known as wise, well respected and sought-after for advice. People trust them.  That is because they are leaders, who absorb information by listening more and talking less.  They have mastered the art of listening, hearing and implementing. They have gained respect and trust.

To listen well is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well,
and is as essential to all true conversation.
–          Chinese Proverb

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Article 3 of 6 – Are You a Trivial Leader or a Vital Leader?

This week’s article is…align employee strengths with organization goals to accelerate results!

Vital leaders practice 6 crucial skills required to unleash the full creative powers of every employee in accomplishment of your most important goals.

  1. Listening is the doorway to understanding and the bridge to trust.
  2. Expectations of employees when understood drives great performance.
  3. Align employee strengths with organizational goals to accelerate results.
  4. Develop employees through coaching and delegation.
  5. Encourage employees with positive and corrective feedback.
  6. Resilience the base for leadership excellence.

Trivial leaders are focused on the achieving business results but never consider employee work preferences when assigning jobs. This lack of awareness and caring by the leader is a major reason employees become frustrated, stressed and unmotivated. The impact on business results is seen in high employee turnover, increased sick leave use and lower quality in products and services.

 From a leader’s perspective, the most serious betrayal has to do with thwarting human potential, with quenching the spirit, with failing to deal equitably with each other as human beings. ~Max DePree

The vital leader aligns employee strengths to business and organizational goals. No matter what job a person is assigned, every role in that job will not be a good fit for the employee’s preference for accomplishing work. Vital leaders understand every job is comprised of both task and relationship roles. They also know whether employees are more task or relationship oriented by understanding their strengths:

Task Oriented Strengths Relationship Oriented Strengths
  • Questioning
  • Logic focused
  • Objective
  • Skeptical
  • Challenging
  • Accepting
  • People focused
  • Empathizing
  • Receptive
  • Agreeable

Furthermore, vital leaders understand task and relationship oriented behaviors may be presented in a direct or indirect manner. Keeping this in mind, we can now describe four employee work styles and their preferences for accomplishing work.

What Employees are Direct and Task Oriented

You rely on what employees when the job must be done now! They are hard charging with a never fail attitude. You’ll recognize them right away. They are straightforward and ask “What do you want?” and “What’s the bottom line?” Give what employees work that is challenging, stay out of their way and watch them thrive!

Who Employees are Direct and Relationship Oriented

You rely on who employees to persuade and energize others to achieve group goals. Who employees have a gift for connecting people with resources to achieve business goals. You will recognize them when they ask such questions as “Who’s involved?” and “Who can provide recognition and resources?” Provide who employees with opportunities for group activities and you will not be disappointed with the outcome.

How Employees are Indirect and Relationship Oriented

When you need support for team goals give the job to a how employee. How employees are patient and use a calm approach to support others in accomplishment of goals. You recognize them because they ask, ”How can I best support the team?” and “How do we develop a plan for us to follow?” Allow how employees to help others in a stable environment, and they will stay on task until the job is satisfactorily completed.

Why Employees are Indirect and Task Oriented

If work must be done right the first time give the job to a why employee. They are very deliberate in their approach to work and use precision along with analysis to achieve the highest quality outcomes. Why employees give themselves away when you hear them ask “Why must it be done this way?” and “Why did you change the rules?” Give why employees the opportunity to use their expertise for ensuring quality and they will deliver error free products and services.

 Leaders must know the strengths of each employee, then create opportunities for employees to use them. ~Gallup Organization

Armed with knowing the job requirements and the employees natural strengths will allow you to assign employees work that is a natural fit and require less energy for them to perform. Of course this is not always possible. When it isn’t possible, you can inform the employee of the work, which fits their orientation and let them know what about the job may be frustrating. This approach sets the employee up for success while improving employee engagement, and organizational success.

Vital Leader Thoughts on Employee Strengths

1. Identify whether your employees are more task or relationship oriented. Also consider if they are more direct or indirect when communicating with others.

2. Now align their strengths with the jobs required of the organization.

3. Finally, set the employees up for success by sharing how the job aligns with their strengths and is a good fit for how they prefer to work. Also describe which parts of the job are not a good fit and may cause some frustration or stress for the employee. Knowing you care will allow employees to give their best in achieving business goals while feeling appreciated for what they do.

In the next article, I will share my thoughts and experience for developing employees through coaching and delegation.

Article 2 of 6 – Are You a Trivial Leader or a Vital Leader?

This week’s article is…expectations of employees when understood drives great performance!

Vital leaders practice 6 crucial skills required to unleash the full creative powers of every employee in accomplishment of your most important goals.

  1. Listening is the doorway to understanding and the bridge to trust.
  2. Expectations of employees when understood drives great performance.
  3. Align employee strengths with organization goals to accelerate results.
  4. Develop employees through coaching and delegation.
  5. Encourage employees with positive and corrective feedback.
  6. Resilience the base for leadership excellence.

Trivial leaders see people as a thing and use the carrot and stick style of motivation. When you do well, you get the carrot. When you don’t do well, you get the stick. Also known as the “Jackass Theory” of motivation. Since trivial leaders treat people as things they can only control, manage, direct and watch the employees every move.

When people are treated as things, they lose trust and withhold their full commitment. ~Stephen Covey

When commitment is withheld employees only do what they are told because you are paying them.  As trust continues to erode employee commitment continues to decline further to malicious obedience. Some people even rebel or quit even though they stay on your payroll. Furthermore, unless commitments are made, there are only promises and hopes… but no results.  

Vital leaders see people as an asset and treat them as a whole person turning their potential into performance and performance into profits. They understand there is a direct relationship between the extent which employee expectations (psychological contract) has been discussed and how much the employee volunteers their highest efforts and energies. Moreover, the employees fully engage themselves in your most important priorities. You can’t buy this level of engagement…you have to earn it.

Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks. ~Johann Gottfried Von Herder

Vital Leader Thoughts on Employee Expectations 

  1. Help people develop a language through which they can efficiently and accurately communicate concerns about their work preferences, attitudes, and satisfaction.
  2. Help employees gain a deeper understanding of what brings them satisfaction and frustration on their job.
  3. Learn hot to better read the pulse of your departments or organizations to discover potential areas of group dissatisfaction.

Next week I will share my thoughts and experience with aligning employee strengths with organization goals to accelerate results.

Are You a Trivial Leader or a Vital Leader?

This is the first article in a series of 6 helping you answer the question…Are You a Trivial Leader or a Vital Leader…a catalyst for employee greatness! 

Vital leaders master 6 crucial skills required to unleash the full creative powers of every employee in accomplishment of your most important goals. 

  1. Listening is the doorway to understanding and the bridge to trust.
  2. Expectations of employees when understood drive great performance.
  3. Align employee strengths with organization goals to accelerate results.
  4. Develop employees through coaching and delegation.
  5. Encourage employees with positive and corrective feedback.
  6. Resilience the base for leadership excellence.


Big egos have little ears. ~Robert Schuller

Trivial leaders are intoxicated by their own voice. They don’t hear the ideas and concerns of others. Trivial leaders do not value the viewpoints of others or understand the importance of listening. Therefore, the only perspective they have is their own and when things go right they take all the credit and when mistakes are made they blame others.

Trivial leaders who refuse to listen costs their organizations in several ways. Communication breaks down and must be re-accomplished and projects come in over budget and not completed on time. The result organizations lose money each and every month due to mistakes and waste enormous amounts of time. Besides losing money employees face emotional wear and tear causing relationships to become strained which impact performance and productivity.


Listening is the doorway to understanding and the bridge to trust. ~John Bentley

Vital leaders listen

Vital leaders begin with the attitude that all people have good intentions and sound reasons for why they are communicating what they are saying.They put people at ease, while letting them know they care and will take appropriate action on employee ideas and concerns.   When people are understood and trusted they will give their best effort and fully invest themselves in their work. 

A vital leader truly listens and pauses after the person finishes speaking to process what was said. The pause allows you to reflect on what was heard or ask a clarifying question letting the person know you were listening. Lastly when people are heard they feel valued and provide creative ways to improve business results and customer WOW!


Of all the skills of leadership, listening is the most valuable—and one of the least understood. Most captains of industry listen only sometimes, and they remain ordinary leaders. But a few, the great ones, never stop listening. That’s how they get word before anyone else of unseen problems and opportunities. ~Peter Nulty

Vital Leader Thoughts on Listening

  1. Are you hosting listening session with your employees? If not, the employees may not understand what the organization is doing and the challenges you are facing. Listening sessions allow you to share this information so employees can ask questions and provide ideas and feedback to improve the situation.
  2. When listening, takes notes and show a genuine interest in others and what they think. If you are busy and cannot be interrupted let the individual know you cannot give your undivided attention and energy right now. Next establish a time for the person to come back so you can listen fully and truly value your time together.  
  3. When meeting in your office take the time to unplug the phone and turn off your computer monitor to prevent distractions. This sends a message to the employee that you are important to me!

Please share with us your listen tips to help us become a Vital Leader. Next week I will share my thoughts and experience with understanding employee expectations (the psychological contract) to drive great performance.

Hamburger Cook as a Leader of People

I had the joy and honor of meeting Kathy Barnes while visiting my daughter @ Vanderbilt Medical Center today. Kathy was cooking hamburgers in the cafeteria and asked me about the book I was carrying. I shared with her Jon Gordon’s “Training Camp” How to bring out the best in yourself and others.

For a moment, I thought here’s another opportunity to share my leadership and personal development philosophy. However, I was pleasantly surprised as Kathy, the food and beverage manager, began sharing with me the books she reads to connect with those she is fortunate enough to lead. Kathy told me how she uses the appropriate communication style to connect with each employee based on their preferred method of receiving information. Read more